Sveum pegs Castro as a "grass hugger"

DENVER -- The plan this offseason is for Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro to work on his shyness.

This is less about his personality, though, as it is about how he plays on the infield. The Cubs would like Castro to stop lingering as far back on the infield as possible and show his face closer to the base paths.

Sveum calls Castro a “grass hugger,” and the term has nothing to do with being an advocate for better lawn care.

“(It’s players) that don’t want to leave that cut of the grass because their arms are so strong,” Sveum said. “They don’t want to risk gaining ground on a ball. It’s not charging a ball, it’s gaining and you end up gaining three or four yards on ground balls and angles of balls and things like that. There is no doubt he’s still one of those guys who wants to rely on his arm.”

When he relies on his arm, Castro can sometimes look like he isn’t focused, especially when he waits a beat before throwing. On a few occasions, the runner has beat a Castro throw because he plays so far back or he doesn’t get off a throw quickly enough.

“He knows some of the things defensively he needs to work on, staying away from the grass and gaining ground on ground balls and being aware of the people that hit the ball,” Sveum said. “There is a lot of it you don’t work on. You just have to be aware of it and play and concentrate to have the awareness of what’s going on a lot of times.”

There still is another week to work on it this season, and Castro is expected to get the playing time. Castro has started all but one Cubs game this season, but even that day he still ended up playing. The expectation is that he plays in all six of the Cubs' games down the stretch giving him a full 162-game season.

“That’s what you want,” Sveum said. “When you’re ready to win and your best players play every day your chances of winning are better. When you come down to the last day of the season and you win it by one game, a lot of times you can look back and say it was because everybody stayed healthy, and I was able to put the same lineup out there every single day.”